This article is part of a poetry series dedicated to every Muni route in San Francisco. You can find the poet, Mc "Mack" Allen, on twitter at @that_mc.
New Splice (55 16th)
Sometimes before the real structure of a bridge
is built the builders first fly a kite across the gap,
an almost invisible, impermanent string
along which gradually heavier lines can be carried:
the tenuous kite string draws a catenary formwork
holds its shape in space and imperceptibly pulls the sides together
until steel cables that will outlast the metalworkers
are finally fixed in place.
Such fleeting lines tie almost every part of a city
to almost every other part and every line
has to be remade, re-tied to new posts and pillars and
stretched over the next bridgeable gap.
If any city is unfinished it’s this one,
Uncoiling and recoiling, unwinding its lines then spooling them up again.
In Mission Bay the Fifty-five line is knotted into the piers of Old Long Bridge
unfurling a block at a time across the marsh and over the Mission creekbed.
Soon it’ll be hauled out of the fill and mud to be restrung,
hitched to Irish Hill, braided with the rope walk at Tubbs Cordage,
a new splice ready to tie to the kitestring,
waiting for a gust to hurl it skyward once more.